Meet Pawblo Picasso—a.k.a. Melissa King—a prolific dog portrait artist. She captures the spirit of her subjects in beautiful paintings—and she might even make one for you…
King started out by painting a portrait of her sister’s beloved miniature schnauzer, Peter—@petertheschnauz. It was a hit:
As King explains, “I thought, ‘I bet other people would like a custom portrait of their pet.’ I posted on Facebook to gauge people’s interest, and the response was overwhelming! By the end of the summer I had enough demand that I decided to try doing my business full time. It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way…it’s the best job in the world (besides being a Rover sitter)!” That’s right—in addition to her artistic pursuits, King is a Boston-area dog sitter with Rover.com.
To capture her subjects’ personalities, King starts with a photo of the dog, and asks for tidbits about the pet’s personality. Sometimes she receives videos—and when she can meet the dog in person, even better!
She starts out with a realistic style, working closely with the photograph, and finishes with her signature black outline, giving the painting a more illustrative look.
“This may seem obvious,” she explains, “but if you can get the eyes right, that’s the biggest part. It’s important that the dog appears to be looking in the right direction. That one little dot of white paint on the pupil (the reflection) is crucial!”
“I think what has intrigued me most about pet portraits,” King explains, “is the shared love I have with my clients for animals. I greatly appreciate witnessing the delight people experience while viewing their finished portrait for the first time. I have heard many stories of family members crying in joy, and my paintings giving great solace to those who have lost a pet.”
When it came to picking a standout story about a single portrait out of the over 400 she’s completed since 2011, King couldn’t play favorites for us—there were simply too many great stories to choose from! But one of our faves? Definitely this family who commissioned a dog portrait—minus their baby!
“I like the joke that the painting is a true reflection of how we prioritize our pets!” King says. So true, so true.
King doesn’t have a dog yet—but since she started sitting for Rover dogs, she’s learning all about different breeds and temperaments, and has had a chance to experience the joy of a dog at her own pace.
“Being around animals more and more through my Rover stays has been inspiring me in ways I never imagined!” King says.
Interested in commissioning your own dog portrait? Check out Pawblo Picasso online: www.pawblopicasso.com. You’ll find more examples of her work, explore her process, and get tips on how to choose the best photo for a painting. Pawblo Picasso gets busy over the holidays, so think ahead! A painting makes a pretty spectacular holiday gift…
In the meantime, keep an eye out for Pawblo Picasso in a neighborhood near you. “A large part of my art is ‘live painting,’ where I use a French easel to work on a portrait in different locations,” King explains.
“I recently did a live painting event at a dog festival put on by the Animal Rescue League of Boston. I worked on a portrait of a dog from one of their shelters who had been there for a relatively long time—the idea being that whoever ended up adopting her would get the portrait. I loved this idea so much that I hope to plan future tours to do live painting of animals from other shelters to raise awareness about the importance of adopting our pets!”
As for what the future holds, King has too many artistic plans to list—and dogs to meet through Rover.com.